Was the Berkeley school shooting plotter trying to assemble ghost guns?

Recently, police in Berkeley, California, arrested a 16-year-old male student of Berkeley High School for allegedly plotting a shooting against the school. While the headlines in the past few weeks have all been about the tragedy in Uvalde, this plot is said to have started prior to the Uvalde Shooting.

On May 21st, local police received a tip that the suspect tried recruiting others into his plot. The BPD used some unusual language when it came to their announcement of the arrest. They said that the suspect advertised his idea for recruitment online, and that the tipster saw the advertisement. Maybe I’m reading too much into this, but the word advertisement makes me think he took to a platform like craigslist to look for co-conspirators. In reality, though, it was probably just a social media post on a platform like Instagram or Snapchat if history is any indicator.

On May 22nd, BPD received a search warrant for the suspect’s home. During their search, they were said to have found “parts to explosives and assault rifles, several knives, and electronic items that could be used to create additional weapons.” To clarify because there was some confusion in the press, police found parts to explosives and parts to assault rifles. However, the suspect was not arrested at that time.

This, of course, caused some concern in the community. BPD said that while the threat was credible, they couldn’t arrest him just then.

“If we don’t have probable cause to make an arrest, the person is going to get released,” said Byron White, public information officer for the Berkeley Police Department. “It takes time and space to actually put together the investigation.”

Meanwhile, the suspect was not allowed to be on school grounds.

BPD, also said the suspect was searching on the dark web and had tried to buy a gun at the school.

Police went to arrest the suspect at his home on May 26th, but the suspect wasn’t there. The suspect eventually turned himself in on May 30th, four days later.

When asked about the delay between the attempted arrest and the suspect turning himself in, BPD stated that they were actively apprised on a daily basis of the whereabouts of the suspect. Take that for whatever it means.

Meanwhile, it seems the Berkeley community has some parents and students who have a better way of thinking than most communities where school shootings happen.

“I just think we all need to keep a closer eye and look into our kids’ social media and maybe even the districts need to just hire someone just to watch social media and see what’s going on,” said Derrick Dupaty.

And most importantly…

“Everyone says, ‘Oh, it can’t happen here.’ It can happen anywhere. It’s become very clear that it can happen anywhere, it doesn’t matter,” said Student Ruby Carter.

Part of the problem with preventing school shootings before they happen is too many people have an attitude of ‘it can’t happen here.’ Not to single out Uvalde since there have been scores of other communities like that, not too many people would even know the name of Uvalde if it wasn’t for the tragedy that happened there.

What I really want to talk about with this alleged plot is the assault weapon parts that were found in the suspect’s home. It sounds an awful lot like someone was trying to assemble a ghost gun in the home. Ghost guns are typically guns that can be assembled from parts that can be obtained through the mail, and the parts don’t have serial numbers. Since gun parts aren’t classified as firearms, dealers don’t have to perform background checks on their customers. In case you were wondering, it’s illegal in California to assemble an assault rifle in the ghost gun manner. In most other states, it’s perfectly legal.

This wouldn’t be the first California school shooting where a ghost gun was used. In Late 2019, a 16-year-old suspect used a .45 semiautomatic pistol ghost gun during a school shooting at Saugus High School in Santa Clarita, California. Two students died that day before the suspect took his own life.

Another way to assemble a ghost gun is to print out the parts on a 3D printer. I imagine that is what police are talking about when they say the suspect had electronic items that could be used to create additional weapons. While 3D printed plastic parts aren’t as reliable as traditional gun parts, they can do plenty of damage during a one-time use event like a school shooting. You can do a YouTube search for ‘3D printed assault rifles’ to see for yourself. I’m sure some ‘responsible gun owners™’ will chime in to let us know that 3D printed assault rifles are what the founding fathers had intended.

Anyway, I’d be interested to know about the suspect’s home life. In the Saugus High School shooting, assembling ghost guns was something that was handed down from father to son. I have to wonder if that was the case here, or if this was just another case of parents not knowing what was going on under their own roof.


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